German drugstore Rossmann to remove “climate neutral” labelling from own-branded products
German health and beauty products retailer Rossmann said it will remove “climate neutral” labels from its own-branded products following a joint investigation by newspapers the Guardian and die Zeit, which found many of these claims were unsubstantiated and based on “questionable” CO2 removal certificates. “We have been thinking about discontinuing these labels on our products for quite some time – and we will now do so,” Rossmann head Raoul Roßmann told Die Zeit. “The ‘climate neutral’ labels have been criticised for months,” Roßmann said. “So far, my attitude has been: as long as the climate protection projects behind them are not in question, we can deal with criticism of the labels. But now I ask myself: which customer still perceives this as added value?” The drugstore had hoped to gain a more positive brand image through advertising their products’ commitment to climate protection, “but now the label is basically dead,” Roßmann said, adding that he was upset that an incentive for sustainable action was being lost. The drugstore will keep the label until the packaging is used up, then use the budget set aside for offsetting somewhere else, Roßmann said.
The joint investigation had found that considerable parts of the CO2 removal certificates, with which companies compensate their emissions, are apparently worthless. According to the report, in many cases the leading certifier on the market overestimated the contribution of forest protection projects to climate protection. Companies across the world have started a race to declare themselves and their products “climate neutral”, but most claims still rely on questionable commitments to compensate continued emissions elsewhere on the planet. It remains virtually impossible to make truly "climate neutral" products in a modern economy, despite the rapid increase of such labels, Susanne Spies of Germany's Federal Environment Agency (UBA) told Clean Energy Wire in a recent interview. While many consider the trend to use the labels as nothing but greenwashing, others welcome the commitments as a first step towards corporate climate neutrality. Rossmann introduced its “climate neutral” line of own-branded products in January 2021.